But now it’s the first time each and everyone has written songs. All four of us. And that’s – I think that’s really, really nice this time.
Interview und Foto: Corinna Sauer
Vor ziemlich genau 10 Jahren gründeten drei Norwegerinnen eine Band und nannten sie Katzenjammer. Gefühlt ist es genau so lange her, seitdem mir eine Freundin bei einem gemeinsamen Roadtrip ein Mixtape mit Songs der Band vorspielte und ich aufgrund der beschwingten und Endorphine-freisetzenden Musik das Gaspedal noch ein wenig mehr durchtrat. Seither kenne und mag ich diese Musik, die mich über die Jahre hinweg immer wieder begleitete.
Mittlerweile, seit kurz nach der Gründung, sind Katzenjammer zu viert und haben kürzlich ihr drittes Studioalbum „Rockland“ veröffentlicht. Charakteristisch für den unverwechselbaren Sound von Marianne Sveen, Turid Jørgensen, Solveig Heilo und Anne Marit Bergheim ist die genreübergreifende Mischung aus Country, Folk, Pop und rockigen Elementen und die Vielzahl der teils sogar selbst-kreirten Instrumente. Die Experimentierfreude der Vier ist ein roter Faden, der sich durch ihre Diskographie zieht und sich wiederum in ihrem aktuellen Album ausdrückt. „Rockland“ zeichnet sich vor allem auch dadurch aus, dass die Bandmitglieder zum ersten Mal Hauptsongwriter waren und, wie sie sagen, zurück zu den Wurzeln gehen: „Enthüllt und ohne all diese symphonischen Extras.“
Ich traf Marianne, Turid und Anne Marit im Dezember zu einem sehr netten und herzlichen Interview über den Dächern der Stadt, bei dem wir über musikalische und persönliche Entwicklungen, Gruppendynamik, die Liebe zur Musik und merkwürdige norwegische Instrumente sprachen.
Interview mit Katzenjammer
First of all: Very nice to meet you. I was really excited about this.
Turid: Thanks, nice to meet you too.
So how are you, how is Berlin? Do you have any time to explore the city a bit or do you have a very tight schedule?
Marianne: We’ve been here a lot of times and it’s one of our favourite cities. We haven’t had so much time yet, today, but we’ll have some more time tomorrow. Walking around in Kreuzberg.
Anne Marit: You see we have our routine here. We always stay at the same hotel and we always go out and eat at the same Indian restaurant in Kreuzberg, just down the street. So I guess we will be doing that tonight as well.
But actually to be quite honest, at the beginning I didn’t quite understand Berlin, because it’s it was so gigantic.
Turid: I still don’t. (laughing)
Anne Marit: But I feel by now I got a hold of it. When we found Kreuzberg, it kinda started to feel like home and now it’s fantastic to come here.
It was the same for me when I came here and also with Kreuzberg. It has this certain feel to it.
Turid: It’s more cosy.
Yeah. For sure.
Anne Marit: More personal.
On your recent album you’ve been the main songwriters, right? So how did that go? Does each one of you have like one „baby“ or did you work on the songs together mostly, like all together?
Marianne: We write separately, always. We didn’t decide writing separately, but it’s more efficient first of all and it’s good to have some time for yourself and it adds more of an edge to the sound because we have very different references and different tastes. So one of the girls writes a song and then I write a song, they will sound completely different and that’s so much more fun to bring them into the group and then we make it Katzenjammer. Because if we started from scratch together I think we would never finish.
Turid: no! (everyone laughs) Actually, we tried once just the four of us and that was impossible.
Marianne: yeah, it was impossible.
Turid: Because it was just like a new idea, a new idea, a new idea and we have to try everything and it was just like… ah, no! Let’s do something else!
Marianne: We need a sketch to start with and then we always arrange and finish the sound together. So everyone can feel, they represent the song. But now it’s the first time each and everyone has written songs. All four of us. And that’s – I think that’s really, really nice this time.
Anne Marit: Good answer!
Turid: Mine was shitty. (laughing)
Yeah, I believe, there is a lot of creative energy with four different girls with their very own energies, a lot of instruments, that play like extra roles in the band. So I can imagine, when you all sit together and try to build something from that it could become a bit chaotic.
Marianne: Yes, it really gets chaotic.
Your music – it has this very distinct sound, this… let’s just call it „Katzenjammer sound.“ By the way, do you pronounce it the English or rather the German way, because it’s a German word?
Anne Marit: Katzenjammer (pronouncing it the Norwegian and German way), it’s right.
I think that it’s obvious that you progressed a lot throughout the years and that you always experiment with different sounds, and that you add more instruments all the time and even invent instruments. So, how is it possible to still stay with the core of the Katzenjammer feeling?
Marianne: I think it’s because of what we said before- that we are so different. It’s because we are not one singer, one bass-player, one drummer or one pianist. We are four people that love music and we get together and we just use all of our influences, putting them in one pot and then you get like all the right colours and all the great ideas and all the inspiration in one place and that will be energetic. That’s the only way to go for us, I think.
Are there still more instruments that you wanna learn? That are on your list?
Turid: ALL the time. For me I would like to learn to play the violin. But I think that’s never going to happen (laughs), I’m a bit late. It’s never too late probably. But it takes a lot of time to practice that.
Marianne: But you can still play it, it probably wouldn’t sound great.
Turid: Yeah, my grandfather made one.
Anne Marit: There you go! It’s just one step away from playing a whole song (laughing).
Turid: It would sound like eeee eeee, but everything is possible. You never know, next week we’ll probably find an instrument that would be fantastic to try to play. We never know. But I think we should never put a limitation to it.
Marianne: I think the one thing you will probably not hear is the bagpipe.
Anne Marit: No! Never!
It sounds like someone came up with the idea before?
Everyone: Never! (laughing)
Anne Marit.: About flutes… there is like this Norwegian, irritating folk instrument… It’s never gonna happen.
You have been playing it?
Turid: She is! She’s actually good!
Anne Marit: No!
Turid: She is! I’m sorry for the interruption right here, but we were in this radio programme just a few weeks ago and she played it, I was really impressed and she was so focused! It’s a terrible instrument, but you played it so well!
Why is it terrible?
Turid: Because it sounds like you step on something that’s almost about to die. (everyone making sounds to prove it)
Anne Marit: That was just a side story. So what was the question again?
Turid: The instruments.
If there is still something that you want to add.
Turid: No! (everyone’s laughing)
What musical influences did you bring to the band individually?
Anne Marit: Oh actually, I have a favourite or even two that I listened a lot to when I was a kid. And that was Everly Brothers!
Marianne: They are fantastic.
Anne Marit: And Nora Jones. And this other bloke… It’s coming to me. They made a tribute album to the Everly Brothers and when I heard that, my whole childhood came back to me. So folk music and American folk music has been always important to me. And Bruce Springsteen… etc.
Turid: For me – first of all it’s Balkan music and I don’t know why. Somehow it’s talking to me. Maybe because… I was Balkan in a previous life (laughing) And also in my youth, rock music was important to me. And singer-/songwriters. I like Irish music. And also some more stuff.
Marianne: I think that’s the beauty – that we all like different stuff. Some things, that are common and some things, that are not. I grew up with a lot of Beatles music. Which I think in some way you also did.
Turid and Anne Marit: Yes, for sure.
Marianne: And some classical music and Aretha Franklin. My mother is a Soul addict, so I grew up with all those singing ladies, but when I started to discover stuff on my own, like Radiohead… Aerosmith. I was a huge Aerosmith fan!
Anne Marit: Really? I didn’t know.
Marianne: Yeah! In high-school. And I still love Aerosmith. But I think Radiohead to me is still the greatest variety of music in one band and it just hits me with every album, that they make. So I would have to say Radiohead. And actually Scott Matthews, if you haven’t heard of him. That’s a new tip. Fantastic artist.
What kind of music does he do?
Marianne: Well, his last album is softer than his previous one. It’s more Soul-, Blues kind of. Sounds a little bit like Jeff Buckley in a more acoustic kind of package.
Anne Marit: Sounds nice.
Marianne: He’s amazing. He has a voice that you just wanna crawl into and stay in there. Scott Matthews. You should check him out.
I will. So, that leads me to the question, if there is an artist, that you would like to have a private jam-session with?
Turid: Yes! All of us together- that would be Jack White.
Anne Marit: He actually lives in Nashville and me and Marianne went to Nashville on separate trips. And I actually went to this café where I heard that Jack White goes to regularly. So I went there and I was hoping that he was there and I was a little bit starstruck, just being there. He wasn’t there anyways, but he’s a fantastic guy- like music-wise. He’s been hanging out there while we’ve been arranging and recording the album. He has been a huge inspiration.
I see. Does he know yet, that you would like to work with him?
Anne Marit: Nooo… But maybe for the next album.
Marianne: Or maybe we could support him on tour. That would be nice.
I think your new album sounds… I don’t know, if it’s the right thing to say. But a little bit more settled maybe?
But still with this playfulness that’s so much part of your music.
Anne Marit: You have a good set of ears! That’s quite accurate and we are really thankful for that.
Thanks, but I mean it. It’s so nice.
Marianne: I think, that’s spot on, actually. Next year, we’ll have our tenth anniversary and you can probably hear, that we are more settled. And know each other even better and…
Anne Marit: …ourselves!
Marianne: Yeah, ourselves. And we play better together now, too. Better and better and better.
I’d like to know, how do you describe the process music-wise throughout the years. I mean, obviously, you grew together. And by being passionate about music and being close as people and being in constant exchange, I think progressing is more or less inevitable. Can you talk about the process that you went through since the beginning, since you found Katzenjammer?
Anne Marit: Mats [Rybø], he’s been a very important character to us. He is a good friend of ours and he’s been there for us. He also he is a fantastic songwriter since many years. We asked him to play his songs in the beginning. And we just developed from there. It started to become more and more important to us to add more of ourselves to the music. We wrote more ourselves eventually. I think we’ve been searching a long time to find something. And there at the beginning, it was a lot of searching (laughing).
Marianne: All over the place!
Turid: All over the place.
Anne Marit: But I think it was essential to actually come to a certain… security. And now we know, where we want to be. Music-wise. And as persons as well. So even though there have been a couple of songs that we might not be that proud of, that we have done like the first year…- I don’t think we’ve ever recorded one of them?
Turid: Recorded, but not released.
Anne Marit: You just have to go through all this stuff.
Marianne: You should never regret anything that comes from music.
Turid: No. Because that just leads you to the road, where you are at now. I mean, we we were 23, when we started?
Anne Marit: Yeah.
Marianne: We were just brats compared to now. And we’ve been playing so much live and travelling a lot. Meeting everyone from Elvis Costello to David Byrne and back-up singing for Counting Crows… you get a perspective of people are just being people, basically. And that we deserve to be where we are. We are very, very humble and very proud, that we are where we are right now. We’ve been working really hard for it as well. And we really want it. I think, that’s a very important factor within our music history – that we’ve been constantly working. Nothing has ever been given to us. And if it was, we would have probably not accepted it. We wanted to walk that road. And along the way, I think, we have grown as musicians and as a band. And you can probably can hear that in our music. It’s more and more grown up.
Yes, it’s really beautiful. Because I think, it’s not always like that, with every band. That you can really hear, that they dare to experiment and that they not just follow that one road, that feels comfortable. I think that, if you stay connected to what you like, it will always lead to an outcome, that’s you and that feels right. As single people or as a band. And I think you can feel that kind of thing very much in your music.
Turid: Actually, I got a question in a previous interview and she asked, if this album was a hundred percent Katzenjammer, compared to the other albums or to previous songs, that we’ve ever been playing. And I said I disagree, that it has not been Katzenjammer before, cause it’s always been a hundred percent Katzenjammer. It’s just been a way to discover… this. And this is also our journey. We’re also gonna continue to develop from here, of course. Nothing stops here.
I guess, you really enjoy touring and playing on stage?
Turid: Yes! We are really looking forward to doing that again, soon. It’s been a while.
I’ll be there in the beginning of next year.
I think, that’s basically it what I wanted to ask you. But of course, there’s always more…
Marianne: But if you have more questions, just go for it! I think, the next interview is not before… we have some more time.
Cool, thanks! So, Marianne, you also have a solo project (Dandylion). Would you like to talk about that a little bit? And also about if it influences the band music-wise somehow?
Marianne: If that’s ok with the other girls, sure.
The others: Yeah, sure, go ahead.
Marianne: I think we all have parallel universes music-wise, as we have Katzenjammer. And I think it’s important, that you can take out some of your complete ego-stuff somewhere else. And to me, I started a solo project before Katzenjammer. Then I thought, I had to put it aside. But in 2011, I think, I didn’t have a choice- I just had to get it out there. And since I did that, it’s easier to focus on Katzenjammer again. My head is here right now, with the girls. And we are four equals. And I’m back to being 25% of one band. Dandylion is still there. I’ll probably focus on the a hundred percent the next time. Like last time it was on tour between shows, recording, back home, taking a project on tour- couldn’t really focus a hundred perfect on that project. But next time, I will do that instead. Focussing on every single project.
Turid: I think it’s so important, in that case and generally – it’s so important to everyone of us to have a life outside of Katzenjammer.
Anne Marit: That’s true. Something that’s just you.
Yes, I can imagine. And I guess it also influences a lot of what you do as part of the band. You step a little bit outside maybe, focus on something else, try yourself out as an individual a bit more and then see again… Maybe it’s a bit like a love relationship…
Marianne: Yeah, yes, it is.
…maybe you are separated for some time, maybe travelling on your own and then you see the person that you are with again more clearly somehow, more pure.
Turid: Exactly. I I think, if you can deal with your own very personal stuff, it’s easier to deal with others. And to me it wouldn’t be right to go for the deepest, most personal stuff within this band, because they have to stand for it as well. So for me personally, that doesn’t feel right and it’s better to do that in another project. Where other people don’t have to feel and stand behind it. And then again, when we are together, it’s important to write something together and feel what we feel. While doing that, it becomes one, it’s different.
Marianne: That’s the beauty of all of us could still have solo careers, cause we all have, like we said before, this different approaches. And who knows, maybe at some point we will do that and then get back together- there are endless opportunities of what you can do with music. If you just want. You have to want it.
I guess you go for it, when you feel it.
Turid: That’s for sure.
Members: Marit Bergheim, Solveig Heilo, Turid Jørgensen, Marianne Sveen
Le Pop – 2010
A Kiss Before You Go – 2011
Rockland – 2015
- 4.3.15 – Köln // Palladium
- 5.3.15 – Alter Schlachthof // Dresden
- 6.3.15 – Columbiahalle // Berlin
- 7.3.15 – Ringlokschuppen // Bielefeld
- 9.3.15 – Große Freiheit 36 // Hamburg
- 10.3.15 – Maimarkt Club // Mannheim